Dot and Janie have been in heat.
Now, you may wonder how one knows when one’s does are in heat.
Well, I’ll tell you.
Since goats are typically pretty quiet and calm, one sure sign of heat is an almost constant bleating that will make you think their shed must be on fire or that someone has eaten all their hay and replaced it with rocks. It is incessant, it is annoying, and (barring any other trouble) it is one indicator of heat.
Another indicator demonstrated by our girls is a side-to-side tail waggle. The waggle accompanies the bleat the way a tambourine might accompany a back-up singer and it was this synchronicity that told us it was time to get ourselves a buck.
The thing about bucks is that they, well… they really stink. I don’t mean that they’re unpleasant or difficult; I mean they smell like holy hell. Keeping a buck is simultaneously a commitment to farming and an assault on every olfactory system within a mile.
On our tiny farm, this wasn’t worth it.
So, in the fall, when we sold four of our piglets to some local farmer friends, we built into the sale a swap that covered us borrowing their buck for about a month.
Because we have no way to safely and effectively heat our goat sheds, we wanted to ensure that our girls wouldn’t kid in the sub-zero temperatures. By borrowing T. Oakenshield (that’s right) in January, we could safely plan for a June/July kidding–which would be ideal.
We took delivery of Mr. T. this morning.
He’s a lovely guy (despite the smell) and looks very much like Janie, our Saanan-Nubian mix.
We were pleased to see that he’d been disbudded, which saves us the otherwise added trouble of working around a set of horns.
Dan and Dave unloaded T., crate and all, from the back of their truck before attempting to lure him out of the crate on our driveway.
He’d obviously been comfortable in there, because (as most animals are wont to do when crated) he wanted nothing to do with coming out.
He required a little bit of coaxing in the form of a hind-leg-extrusion maneuver that was as effective as it was funny.
Funny for everyone except for T., that is.
As we headed toward the ever-curious does, I was impressed by how obediently and purposefully T. walked with Dan to his temporary digs.
In all my experience with goats, I haven’t had the best of luck walking one on a lead of any kind without an impressively stubborn display of will.
Goats go where they want, when they want. I would go so far as to say that, even if they actually wanted to go where they were being led, they would fight it just because it was also where the person wanted them to go.
Ava pointed out that, despite our being at least 100 yards away, T. could smell the ladies and was now on a self-appointed investigation mission.
When we arrived, it was immediately evident that the ladies were clearly and decidedly NOT CURRENTLY IN HEAT.
Between being away at work during the day and the sub-zero temperatures in the morning and night, we haven’t spent as much time observing the does as usual. I could’ve sworn I’d heard them bleating a lot lately, but that easily could have tapered off over the past few days and gone unnoticed.
IF they were in heat, they would have stood still for T. and let him have his odiferous way with them. As it was, they were not having any of THAT nonsense, urgently sought escape, and continuously looked at me as though to say, “What the fluke, Mom? What on earth have you brought in here and how do we make it leave?”
But we won’t make it leave quite yet.
Since the girls will go into heat every 21 days or so, we will keep him here until we are certain they are back in heat and have seen evidence of him taking care of business.
Dave did them the not-so-small kindness of putting a door on the second goat shed so that we may separate him from them at feeding time and at night. This small respite may help keep Dot and Janie sane throughout T.’s tenure here.
Because, at the moment, their interest in one another is not particularly mutual.
To say the least.